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Boris Johnson is making an announcement at 5pm today

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Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to hold a press conference tonight at 5pm.

It is expected, in his address to the nation, that Johnson will reveal the latest statistics regarding vaccinations, including the news that the Oxford vaccine can stop transmission by up to two-thirds.

Scientists at Oxford University have revealed that the rollout of vaccines across the country could have already started to stop the virus spreading.

They found that there was a 67% drop in positive swabs among those who have been vaccinated.

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This means those vaccinated have protection from catching the virus and therefore passing it on, as well as also being less likely to get a severe case or die. 

A Tory minister told The Sun: “This is the news we have all been waiting for.

“At last. If this data is correct today will be seen as the turning point in this whole pandemic.”

The prime minister is also expected to pay tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore who died on Tuesday at 100-years-old. 

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Earlier today, Priti Patel said she was ‘concerned’ over the lack of uptake in the vaccine by minority communities. 

She said: “I’m here today at the Neasden Temple because the Temple have used their school buildings to set up a vaccination site, hear in Neasden, in Brent to really get that message out to the local community and to ethnic groups, different ethnic groups around here, but also around the country – please take the vaccine.

“I am concerned, we are all concerned, as we’re hearing messages of misinformation, disinformation associated with the vaccine, and I’ve had the complete privilege today to see people locally come in at this vaccine centre to be vaccinated.

“I’ve met the heroic workers the people on the front line, members of the NHS, members of the army but also volunteers from this temple as well, that are bringing people in to get vaccinated.”

She added: “My message is really, really clear. Take the vaccine, once it gets offered to you. Please take it, it can save your life and it’ll save the lives of others.”

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Boris is also due to reveal the ‘phased’ route out of lockdown on February 22nd.

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “These findings are exactly what we need. It’s looking good for schools returning in March, shops reopening in April.”

Another senior Government source added: “We hope it will be safe to commence the reopening of schools from March 8th, with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter as and when the data permit.”

Matt Hancock hailed the news of the Oxford studies this morning but added that it was too early to lift any lockdown rules as there are still 30,000 people in hospital with the virus. 

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Energy price cap and household bills to fall to lowest in two years in April

The price cap will take effect from April

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Ivan Radic / Wikimedia & Lydia / Flickr

The typical energy bill is to fall to £1,690 in April under the new price cap set by the regulator.

Energy bills will fall by £238 a year, or £20 a month this spring – the lowest price cap in two years – thanks to a mild winter bringing some relief to household bill payers.

The new cap is set by the regulator Ofgem, and will affect 29 million households in England, Wales and Scotland from April until June and is a 12.3% reduction from £1,928 in the current quarter.

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The cap will be adjusted again in July and is expected to fall again to around £1,462 before rising to £1,521 from October, according to energy consultants Cornwall Insight.

Rules for Northern Ireland are different, but prices there are still falling. The cap does not limit how much customers will pay – those who use more will pay more.

The energy price cap is still higher than it was at pre-pandemic levels with households having to shell out more for their gas and electricity than they did before the energy crisis hit, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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The poorest households will see equalised standard charges, which is the fee paid before any gas or electricity is used.

This means customers with prepaid meters will no longer be charged more for their connection than those who pay by credit or direct debit.

It comes after pressure from fuel poverty campaigners, who say despite the move, bills are still high and many households will continue to struggle. 

Those with a meter will save £49 annually while those on direct debit will pay £10 a year more.

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Analysts had feared that disruption to cargo ships in the Red Sea could push gas prices up further, but that has not happened so far.

As reported in The Guardian, Jonathan Brearley, the chief executive of Ofgem, said: “There are still big issues that we must tackle head-on to ensure we build a system that’s more resilient for the long term and fairer to customers.

“That’s why we are ‘levelising’ standing charges to end the inequity of people with prepayment meters, many of whom are vulnerable and struggling, being charged more upfront for their energy than other customers.”

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The regulator will add £28 to customer’s bill to ensure there are sufficient funds for suppliers and support customers who are struggling. 

Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The government promised a new plan for energy bill support by April 2024 but will miss its own deadline.

“And the withdrawal of cost of living payments this spring will make it so much harder for many of those already finding it difficult to make ends meet. Without action, people will face a cycle of winter crises year after year.”

Energy firms will contact customers before April to inform them of their new price changes.

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Motorists could have to retake driving test at 65 under new proposals

A petition is calling for people to have to retake their driving test at 65

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New proposals would mean drivers have to retake their test when they turn 65 if they want their driving licence to remain valid.

If the new plans go ahead, older drivers will have to take another test to show they can drive safely if they want to continue using the roads past the age of 65.

The plans are part of a petition outlined on the Parliament website, according to The Express.

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Campaigner Deniss Fomins, who started the petition, said: “I would like the Government to require drivers to retake their driving at 65, if they want their driving licence to remain valid. 

“I travel a lot, and often see older drivers who I believe should not be driving. Some misuse turn signals, others appear to have sight issues.”

“Reactions also worsen with age,” he added.

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The petition will have to reach 10,000 signatures to receive a reply and if it reaches 100,000 signatures, the government will have to consider it for debate in Parliament.

Currently, you don’t have to take another driving test as you get older, though when you’re nearly 70 your driving licence does run out.

But all you have to do in this instance is ask the DVLA to renew it. The DVLA will then send you a letter with a D46P form to fill in about three months before your 70th birthday. You can fill this in and send it back or use the online service.

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The minimum legal age to be able to drive in the UK is 17, but you don’t have to stop driving at any certain age.

Steve Gooding from the RAC Foundation doesn’t think we should make drivers retake their driving test once they reach any certain age, but he does think motorists should have their eyes checked.

Mr Gooding said: “One thing that would allow all drivers not just those at an arbitrary old age to help judge their fitness to drive would be compulsory eye tests when licences are renewed.”

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President of the AA Edmund King has previously highlighted the huge backlog in driving tests, which would make re-examining older drivers difficult.

Mr King said in a previous statement: “At the moment, it is very difficult for new drivers. In many areas, there’s something like a six-month delay, there’s a 500,000 [test] backlog.

“If you then add in checks for older drivers, it really would set the calendar back by years.”

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Jonnie Irwin’s widow says ‘sadness is huge’ in heartbreaking update

‘I can’t even let myself think what another week without Jonnie will be like let alone another year another 10 years’

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@jonnieirwintv & @jessofjesmond / Instagram

Jonnie Irwin’s wife Jessica Holmes has shared her grief in an Instagram update after losing him to cancer earlier this month.

The A Place In The Sun presenter died on February 2nd at the age of 50 after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2020, which then spread to his brain.

The TV personality previously shared at the time that he was initially given six months to live.

@jonnieirwintv / Instagram

He spent the last months of his life with his family, on holiday, renovating their family home and meeting up with friends and colleagues.

Jonnie leaves behind Jess, who he married in 2016, and their three children: Rex, three, and twins Rafa and Cormac, two.

In a heartbreaking post shared with her 12,000 followers on Instagram, Jess wrote: “It still doesn’t feel real. The sadness is huge. I can’t even let myself think what another week without Jonnie will be like let alone another year another 10 years. 

@jessofjesmond / Instagram

“I have been truly touched by all the support from friends and strangers. But nothing compares to how I have been picked up by my family and Jonnies sisters , your support and love means everything to me. “

The accompanying image showed a picture of sun shining over cliffs by the sea, as she added: “I am loving watching the boys enjoy some days in the sun and having a change of scene is just what we needed.” 

Fans and friends dashed to the comments section, flooding her with support and sending their love.

One person wrote: “The world is sad with you…one foot in front of the other…sending love.”

Another put: “It’s super hard, taking strength from friends and family helps as does time, you just do it your way with their help and keep him in your heart, talk to him and love him from afar as only those who have lost can.”

And someone else typed: “You and the boys have been in my thoughts during this time of grief. Words are not enough. Jonnie was an inspiration to so many people and he’ll never be forgotten.”

@jonnieirwintv / Instagram

Jess confirmed the devastating news of Jonnie’s passing in a heartfelt Instagram earlier this month.

Alongside a picture of Jonnie laughing at a dinner table in good times gone by, she wrote: “Good night my favourite. Thank you for everything. I will always love you.

“The hardest day has come, a day I prayed wouldn’t come. It’s with all the the saddness in the world that I confirm Jonnie has passed away earlier today. 

“His magical brain that continued to fight to the end has now gone to sleep. He has given me more than I could ever have wished for, 8 bonkers years of love and adventure and 3 amazing boys. 

@jessofjesmond / Instagram

“I will continue to make you proud but only with your love still finding me and guiding me for the rest of my life, me and the boys still need you. Jonnie you really were the most handsome man I ever knew and I am so sorry for this cruel end. It really wasn’t fair and you didn’t deserve any of this. 

“You gave so much time to others and touched everyone you met, I have never experienced anything like the effect you had on people. I love you so much and forever proud of you.”

Jonnie had initially kept his diagnosis private but made the decision to go public with it in a bid to convince others suffering symptoms to go and seek help as early as they can, as well as inspire those living with life limiting prospects to live the time they have to its fullest.

Speaking to Hello! Magazine in an exclusive interview at the time, he said: “I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it.

“But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.”

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